tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC October 30, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
he just had a chance to be in a position of leadership and couldn't do it. >> go help. stop talking. take only action. >> that is "the ed show." i'm ed shultz. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> thank you for staying with us. take a look at this map. this is a time lapse map put together by "the new york times." it starts at 4:00 a.m. yesterday morning. it's more than half the entire east coast of the u.s. from virginia all the way up to maine. the yellow dots represent people without power. you see a little yellow dot here and there. this is at 4:00 a.m. yesterday morning. this is what happened next. over the course of 24 hours, look at that. as sandy battered the eastern sea board 6 million customers were left in pitch black.
the swath of the eastern united states totally blacked out over the course of one day. and at this hour, more than 6 million electricity customers remain without power in the east. when they say this is the largest storm to have ever hit the east coast of the united states, the word largest in that phrase actually just means the physical area that is covered by this storm, which you can see in the fact we had outages from virginia to maine. but in terms of the direct hit of this storm, part of what makes this a storm of national significance is that when it came ashore, it hit the most populated place in our country. it's not just new york media dismor fee ya. this is the most densely populated area. new jersey's population is greater than the population of maine, new hampshire, montana, nebraska, north dakota, south dakota, and wyoming combined. all in a state that's significantly smaller than even just new hampshire alone.
the new york metro area has a population of over 22 million. when new york city evacuated just these areas in the five burros for this storm, the people who were subject to just that order, just the people who live in the red area as marked on this map, just those people was larger than half the population of more than a handful of u.s. states. just the population in that evacuation area is the population of the whole new orleans. this is just a fraction. and a lot of people remain in this densely-populated area living under circumstances they have never lived in before. tonight rescue efforts here are ongoing in northern new jersey. several were inundated with water late last night when a tie tall surge overflowed its banks. >> normally the the water rises up through the ground. but this time they said it came down the streets and started
pouring into their basements. first a trickle and then it was like a waterfall. there was no place to run, no place to hide. they had 15 minutes depending on where you lived in this 1.7 square mile town. most of them could not. >> most of them could not. we'll be getting a live report from that area later on. that's coming up. and just off the southern shore of long island on fire island, more than 120 people are reportedly stranded tonight after refusing initial orders to evacuate. people who tried to ride out the storm in their homes and are now trapped. first responders flew helicopters over the island to find the best way to get people off the island, but tonight there are still people reportedly trapped there. the rescues are still ongoing. just a short time ago, the governor of new york spoke with brian williams about the scale of the disaster that the city
and the state are now facing. >> last night, i'll tell you the truth, it was frightening. downtown manhattan, we had the hudson river came over the banks and was pouring into the ground zero site at such a volume that it was really frightening. this was all filled with water. what we're looking at now, this goes back about five miles to the other end of the train track, which is in new jersey. and we have to figure out how to pump out this water. >> think of the three governors, christie in new jersey and cuomo in new york, rebuilding coastlines or talking about plans today. are we the new amsterdam? >> i said kiddingly the other day we have a 100-year flood now every two years. there's a frequency to this. and this is really a new problem for new york state. we have not seen a flood like this, damage like this in our
generation. period. people working the subway system and in the construction industry in the state said they have never seen damage like this, period. it's a new reality for us. and i think it's one we're going to have to deal with. we're not going to give up. we're going to cam back and we will. this city will rebuild and the state will rebuild and i believe we will be the better for it. >> you can hear in that discussion that there are really three different time frames here. there's the storm hitting, which is now done on the coast, which created an immediate crisis. the drama of which cannot be overstated. created heroic images like these ones of critical care patients being evacuated out of one of new york city's major hospitals. here's the scene at another hospital. this is a human chain of people passing containers of fuel up 13 flights of stairs in order to keep that hospital's backup
generator going. this was the scene last night and early this morning in a section of queens in new york, flames as high as the eye can see, engulfing blocks. blocks worth of homes. that's one timeframe. the storm and its immediate impact. then there's the third timeframe. the long-term timeframe, which governor cuomo is now talking about it in which some are not willing to talk about. there's a different future for a lot of america because of severe weather caused by climate change. severe weather that cities have never had to deal with before or only had to deal with it infrequently and who may have to now deal with it much more regularly. that's the final time frame. the immediate storm hitting and the long-term framework. but there's something in between. this second timeframe. we're in between those two things. after the immediate impact of
the storm, there are some search and rescue efforts ongoing. but what we are in right now, between that disaster and the long-term planning for how to deal with the new reality of a climate-changed world, what we're in right now is essentially a whole second disaster after the initial storm. a disaster that's not about the experience right now of wind and rain, but it's the experience of a lot of people living in a metropolis of 8 million where hundreds of thousands of people have no power. many have no water. last night was the storm. today is the start of a new disaster. it's about this many americans living in extreme conditions for a really indefinite period of time. during a stop at the red cross today in washington, president obama front paged this new challenge. >> obviously, we're now moving into the recovery phase in a lot of the most severely-affected areas. new jersey, new york in particular have been pounded by this storm. this is mostly a local
responsibility and the private utilities are going to have to lean forward, but we are doing everything we can to provide them additional resources so that we can expedite getting power up and running in many of these communities. there are places like newark, new jersey, where you have 80% of the people without power. we can't have a situation where that lasts for days on end. and so my instructions to the federal agency has been do not figure out why we can't do something. i want you to figure out how we do something. >> the president referencing 80-90% of people without power. saying we can't have a situation where that lasts for days on end. that was the president this afternoon. new reports within the past hour that some of the president's wish there may have come true. the mayor of newark, new jersey, will be joining us later this hour on that subject. places like newark, new jersey, and jersey city and places
entering into uncharted territory, not just flooding, but widespread power outages. in some cases moving into their second day and going on for we don't know how long. there are coastal communities that have been inundated. there's a coastal portion called breezy point that's been decimated by a massive fire, huge fire there last night that took more than 100 homes. there are places for which there's devastation, that there are a lot of people that are in places in this most densely populated part of america, who are now living in circumstances that would be challenging to anybody. there's something we have not done as a country for a long time in a population center as big as this. the number of people without power in new york city alone is greater than the entire state population of vermont. we're talking about within the city limits. and those hundreds of thousands of people live very close to each other.
this sort of city environment only allows people to live that close to one another because of the intensively-used infrastructure. it's infrastructure that allows this place to support this much life. that allows us to cram this many humans into this small a space. and here's what some of that infrastructure looks like tonight. you're looking at a new york city subway station. which now looks like a dirty aquarium. the subway system is the veins underneath this city that provide life. they are the special infrastructure that allows the city to separate. for the rich, the poor, and everybody in between. right now, it's swamped. you can't even get down on to the subway platforms because the water is everywhere. the army corps of engineers has been called in by officials to help drain these subway tunnels. a task that the army corps has never had to do before.
the manhattan burro president is calling this the biggest disaster in the 108-year history of this subway system. before this, the only place they had ever operated was in new orleans. tonight they are on their way to new york city. this storm rolled through the most densely-populated place in america. rescue efforts are still ongoing in this region today. in the long run the city is thinking about how it can adapt to survive more extreme weather and more frequent extreme weather if our new world is going to keep being like this. but right now, new york city has the unprecedented challenge of getting millions of americans through an extended period with no power, no water and also the project of protecting and recovering the ageing and incredible infrastructure that makes this type of american life possible. joining us now is council speaker speaker quinn. speaker quinn joins us by phone. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> what's your assessment of the damage in the rock aways and the breezy point area? >> the breezy point area, the
fire was just devastating. the images remind you of the pictures you saw of world war ii. i mean homes just burnt to the foundation. literally just a chimney in the midst of 110 homes it was heartbreaking. as i was standing there, people were coming to the area to check to see if their home had made it. they were walking from the evacuated area to breezy and you'd see some people with a degree of happiness on their face and other people just with unbelievable sadness because they saw that their home was one of the ones that had been burnt to the ground. i have to tell you, as sad as it was and almost apocalyptic, one of the first things somebody said to me was, hey quinn, make sure i get my building permit. so although this is tragic, there was a spirit there today that was truly a new york and really a rockaway spirit which they were going to get right
back up on their feet and rebuild this community. >> did you see any ongoing rescue efforts while you were still there today? any concerns people still trapped in their homes anywhere either out in the rockaway peninsula? >> the breezy area, we didn't see any ongoing rescue when we were there. amazingly no one was killed or seriously injured in that fire. earlier in the day, mayor bloomberg and i did a larger helicopter tour over brooklyn and parts of queens. we did see a helicopter rescue happening then. that was around 12:30 or 1:00. >> okay. in terms of lower manhattan right now, obviously, you know the unprecedented nature of this large a power outage for this long a time. in a densely-populated area. what can you tell us about your
expectations as to when power might get back on and if it will be spotty or the whole island coming back at once? >> just so folks understand, basically manhattan south of 31st street is without power. some parts of manhattan were turned off in a preventive sense by con edison because they are fuelled by steam. the fear was there would be flooding when the cold water hits the hot steam, the machines would be ruined. so some of the systems we powered down. there was also a con ed facility on 14th street yesterday on avenue a that flooded from the east river. that created a small explosion. some power like the area i live in chelsea is out because of the explosion. what was powered down will come back more quickly. con ed is still assessing the
damage at the transformer that will relate to other parts. the third type of power outage is power that's out because of trees being down and having pulled downpour lines. that's more in the burros outside of manhattan. as of early this morning at around 9:00, we had half a million, give or take, buildings without power. a customer in new york is a building so it's not the same as a person. people have begun to get power back. we could be at 400,000 now. i don't have an updated number. we'll see power come back on over the next few days and con ed is working to get that done. it will not be, boom, everybody in all the burros back on. it will roll back on. >> how big a challenge in national terms do you think it's going to be for new york to repair the infrastructure damage that was done by this storm?
somebody watching this show right now is sitting there in wisconsin trying to get a handle around how big a national disaster this is. when you look at the damage, how big a bill are we talking about here? >> it's hard to know how big a bill. we'll say since we saw the storm coming and planned extensively, it's a lot less than it would have been. the decision to stop the subway from running gave us the ability to move all of the machinery out of the tunnel to higher ground. so the vast majority of the machinery was not damaged in the storm. that is an enormous difference. powering down the steam facilities will save the vast majority of that equipment. big difference than if we kept things returning running and had them get flooding. so knowing that a bad storm was coming is going to save us not just money, but allow us to get back up and running much more quickly.
>> speaker quinn, thank you for calling in. i know you have a million things to do. thank you. hearing her talk about the importance of knowing it was coming and how big it was going to be and taking advantage of that advanced warning to power things down and that may be a multibillion-dollar savings, not to mention the savings of lots of lives. that makes me happy about weather satellites and the national oceanic administration and the next time somebody tells you we shouldn't invest in that or privatize that or whether satellites cost too much money, play this broadcast for them. we'll be right back. a big disaster involves a ton of bad news but tonight [ engine revving ]
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chances are, you're not made of money, so don't overpay for motorcycle insurance. geico, see how much you could save. we just were given a look for the first time of the portions of the jersey shore by state police helicopter. houses are moved off their foundations. there are houses in the middle of route 35. >> when sandy hits you expect to see damage along the coast. but the new jersey towns of little ferry and hackensack are several miles inland. but at 10:00 last night, the
river came pouring into those towns. joining us is katie. tell us what happened when the water came in there. i imagine it was very sudden and very scary. >> reporter: it came in within 15 minutes. there was no flooding and then six to ten feet high in most of these areas. they were saying that little ferry was 80% under water. we have a little bit of good news to report tonight. the power is back on in parts of this town, which is a shocking thing for everybody to see here. the street lights are on. some houses have power. the majority of this town is empty. so far they rescued about 500 people from all these houses. they have started at daybreak this morning. the levee broke around midnight, but they started at daybreak this morning and have gotten 500 people out. we should show you the video. it's dramatic.
you see people leaving in rafts and canoes and military vehicles. there are elderly people, there are children clinging to rescuers, cats and dogs, the water just didn't discriminate. they literally left in pajamas grabbing whatever they could. that's how quickly the water came in and how dangerous it got. we're told that a levee for the hackensack river broke around midnight and that's what the water rushed in. people around here are used to flooding. this is a part of new jersey that floods every year when there's rain. they are used to it here. they could not have expected this. they were not told to evacuate or that they were in a flood-prone zone. usually they see the water table rising a bit. this came in like a river all of a sudden on these streets. good news is though the federal government had search and rescue crews on the ready in this part of new jersey before the storm even hit. they were able to get here quick.
national guard was here, fema was here. they were all working with local authorities and able to do it smoothly. they stopped search and rescue efforts for tonight. they have gotten all of the elderly and handicap out of the area. they will do it if there are emergency situations. they are not sure how many people are left in the the houses. we spoke to some people who said they were going to stay regardless. they didn't feel like it was much of a threat. the high tide though comes in at midnight tonight and they are concerned about getting another four feet of water. it's receded a lot. we can show you what it looks like here. you can hear the sounds of the activity here and the generators and the sirens every once in awhile. we have a hard time conveying what it smells like. there's a lot of gasoline, a lot of sewage. you don't want to imagine what's in all this water right now. >> everybody needs to take that
high tide seriously as we know that's one of the things leaders are saying is to think this is necessarily done. katy tur, thank you. much of the damage from sandy came from the water pushed on to land from the storm surge. the heavily-populated region in new york city is the center of it. new jersey was hit by the surge. on the other side along the long island sound, connecticut is dealing with storm surge and widespread power outages. four people were killed in the storm in the state of connecticut. 600,000 electricity customers in connecticut are doing without. homes were destroyed. the city of new haven is racing to clear 195 trees that fell on to city roadways in new haven. the governor of connecticut has reassured the public that help is on the way. he's also reassured the public that next week's big election will happen even if they have to count the ballots by hand. the governor of connecticut joins us.
we know you're very busy. we appreciate your time. >> it's good to be with you. a couple things i want to say. the president has done a magnificent job. i used to be a prosecutor in new york city. i lived in manhattan. my heart goes out to those folks. it's a tough time in connecticut, new york, and new jersey. >> this is a tightly-knit area because of the mutual commuting routes between states. i want to ask you, between connecticut and new york and new jersey and all the municipalities, how smoothly are things running in terms of coordination and in terms of whether you're getting what you need in connecticut? >> we have all been on the phone with the president a couple times in the last few days. efforts are coming our way from all kinds of federal agencies. states are learning to work a little closer together. the number one rail line in
america is metro north through connecticut into new york city. we sent a lot of people there. interestingly enough, they sent a lot of people to work. we got to get that system back up and running as quickly as possible. at least get people into grand central station and go from there. but this is the third time my state in one year's period of time, one year and six weeks, this is the third time that we have been through this. we got banged up very badly a year ago with irene. much worse than other states. six weeks later, we had a winter storm that wiped us out. we had 1.1 customers without power in our state. tonight we have over 600,000 people without power. some of our towns were affected by all three of those events and some towns had 97% people without power each and every time in the last year. we're getting used to this right now. we're actually becoming experts at it. >> in terms of the frequency of
extreme weather, we have seen governor cuomo talking about that as the new normal. climate change is such a politicized things, but if we're seeing frequent instances of things that are not supposed to happen but once in a century, what do you have to do differently in terms of infrastructure you wouldn't have to do if you weren't facing these events? >> number one, i have been talking about climate change since 1997. it's happened. it's alive and well in connecticut. number two, we have to raise a lot of infrastructure. literally lift it up off the ground. and we have to think of our cities very differently than we thought about in the past. parking lot underneath -- the first four or eight stories of buildings may not be the prettiest thing to look at, but better you lose a parking lot than a bunch of apartments or business units. we're going to have to think about making our infrastructure
more protectable. this thing in new york is absolutely the example. our problems with metro north are absolutely the example. we'll have to harden systems and spend money on those systems. even while we're spending money to repair those systems. there's a bigger question. in a country where people don't like to talk about infrastructure investment, at least half the people in the country don't like to talk about infrastructure investment, how are we going to e get it done? e we need leadership that doesn't talk about europe and china and then not expect to repeat it here in the united states. we need to rebuild our infrastructure. we need to harden our infrastructure. we need to protect that infrastructure. and we need to do that not for ourselves, but for coming generations. not to make judgments about whether we're going to be able to compete with the rest of the world. it's whether our children and grandchildren are going to be
able to compete with the rest of the world. that was never a question for other generations. all of a sudden, we're questioning whether we should make those investments. >> governor dan malloy. you're in the thick of it. thank you for your time tonight. we appreciate it. >> thank you. i have a modest proposal. how about this? sometimes power goes out because of transformer explosions or water. more frequently power goes out because a tree falls down on the power line. how about we do a big stimulus project. wherein all of the places where the power went out because of hurricane sandy or something else in the past year where the power went out because trees fell on the lines. how about we have a big, nationally-funded investment in infrastructure to bury the power lines. how about that? who would think that's a bad idea? just throwing it out there. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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will start as scheduled on sunday. now go to understand the scale of devastation you might start in hoboken, new jersey. it's just across the river from downtown manhattan. it's one of many, many places in new jersey where people live and commute to new york city. the city has 50,000 people who live along a few dozen streets covering just about one square mile. it's a lovely, small town kind of place. and now much of it is under water.
pushed by sandy, the hudson river flowed into hoboken subway station and fill the streets. the city has banned driving and issued a curfew trying to keep people away from live power lines in the water. officials are hunkered down with a generator asking questions from the stranded and weary and from people who are wanting to volunteer to help. joining us is dawn zimmer, the mayor of hoboken, thank you for joining us. what's the state of things in hoboken? do you still have deep flooding? >> we still have severe flooding in the city of hoboken. probably half our city is flooded. we have probably 20,000 people that are still in their homes. we're trying to put together an e evacuation plan and get the equipment here and ask national guard to bring equipment that we absolutely need. the payloaders just aren't doing it and we can't get down the city streets and really concerned about the residents who are stranded in their homes now. we've had emergency situations and we can't reach people. we are using pa systems, but their chargers and phones have run out. >> is it a matter of finding people who are stranding or the fact that you know where people
are, but you physically can't get to them because the equipment hasn't gotten there yet. >> we know where they are. they are in their buildings and half of hoboken is literally flooded and under water. so we don't have the -- we have two payloaders and we're going in when we get the calls and trying to go in where we can to help people, but the payloader, we have small city streets and payloaders can't fit down the city streets and that's the only vehicles we have. so we're begging and pleading and trying to get the national guard to get the national guard to get in those vehicles that we can get down and either deliver
more food to people if they need it or evacuate them if they need to be evacuated. it's going to be another couple days. >> what response have you had from the national guard and have you been told to expect equipment that hasn't yet arrived? >> yeah. we've been -- we're hearing that some equipment is coming. e we just received word tonight. so extremely hopeful it comes tonight or first thing tomorrow morning so we can get moving with making sure that people are okay. extremely concerned about our residents who are stranded in their buildings right now and can't get to them. i'm just worried that we have live wires in the waters and the waters are completely contaminated. it's rain water mixed with
sewage water. it's becoming more sewage water. >> just to be clear nationally, it needs to be underscored this is not a situation in the past where they went through something skbad you're reflecting on it. this is ongoing. mayor, how many people are still stranded in hoboken? >> i'd say about 25,000 people are still stranded. >> mayor dawn zimmer, thank you for helping us get the word out. we'll do what we can to connect you to the resources you need. and keep us apprised. thank you. i want to show you newark, new jersey. this was newark, new jersey, a city of 270,000 people. never an easy place. this was newark after sandy moved through. newark almost entirely without power. all those people with no ideas when elevators and traffic signals would work again.
we don't know what happens to newark if it stays unplugged. the largest city in total darkness. but then in what feels like an october miracle, they got the lights going. not all of it, but much of it. this is as of hours ago. newark appears to have made some progress. the head of the local electric company got a congratulatory call from president obama himself. the quote you need to know is "great work, ralph." great work in terms of making this much progress this fast. joining us is cory booker. is it true the lights are coming back on? >> they are. we have many people without power, but we're grateful that a large section is starting to come online. as you said, it's very dangerous to have senior citizens in high-rise buildings in need of
medication and have devices that need electricity for their health. so we still have a lot of those situations. so understanding what's going on in all of new jersey, the devastation in the southern parts of our state, the challenges with my colleagues like dawn, we feel grateful we're slowly making progress here. >> as the hands on leader for your city, what's your chief worry for your city? you have to get those customers back online as well even if the rest of the city comes back. but what are your -- how would you rank your priorities? >> that's the number one. we're literally triaging lack of power. we'll be doing some food deliveries to places that have high-need populations and so that's the challenge. we'll still have many places that will be out through the night. that will be our focus. there's also a lot of dangers. and dangers from those that are made by residents reacting to the situation whether it's people using their stoves or
candles to try to heat their apartments. whether it's the newly-energized wires that were dormant before and people learned they were dangerous. so the has are still there. and we are looking for portions of our population to understand we're still in a state of emergency and there are a lot of dangers. we're asking people not to add to that. if they need help, call the emergency line. we have a great group of people work through the night manning our nonemergency line. 973-733-4311 for non-emergency situations. i'm doing my best out here to react as well to constituent concerns. >> cory, keep us apprised. this is still an ongoing disaster in your city. good luck. >> thank you so much for your
attention and focus on this. >> absolutely. tomorrow president obama and governor chris christie of new jersey are expected to be in newark. obviously, that report from dawn zimmer is distressing. the idea that tl might be 25,000 people who haven't been rescued because they are physically not accessible. that the vehicles have not made it there to get them out. but we're going to have leadership going to the state tomorrow. hopefully that results in faster action in the city of hoboken. the storm which has made things so tough in the east has provided a window into the leadership styles in the men competing to be president of the united states. news on that is coming up. we've all had those moments.
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with thermacare heatwraps. thermacare works differently. it's the only wrap with patented heat cells that penetrate deep to relax, soothe, and unlock tight muscles. for up to 16 hours of relief, try thermacare. disasters are inherently political because government is political. and preventing and responding to disasters is a primary role of the state. right. and while a lot of politics have suddenly become irrelevant in the context of this crisis, it seems important there's stark contrast between the
presidential candidates in terms of how they think a government should respond to a disaster. we know what president obama's stance is on the matter because we have been watching him act on it now in realtime. in this crisis he has faced as president. mitt romney has argued that he essentially doesn't want a federal government role in disaster response. he made these remarks on the subject at a debate last year saying not only should we get rid of federal disaster response but it should be taken over by private business. >> every time you have an occasion that takes something from the federal government and sends it back to the states, that's the right direction. if you can go further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. instead of thinking in the federal budget what we should cut, we should ask the opposite. what should we keep? we should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do
and those things we have to stop doing. we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. >> including disaster relief. >> we can't afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. it's simply immoral in my view. for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well we'll be dead and gone before it's paid off. it makes no sense at all. >> that's how he responded to a question about fema. that's what he said about how he'd respond if he were elected. president. now that we're in the midst of a massive natural disaster that's ongoing, there's a really pressing question to be asked. would a romney presidency not have the federal government involved in this response? would the romney presidency not have the federal government do what they are doing right now? just let the states handle it? you take care of it on your own, new jersey. there's no help for you.
is that what he means? you'd give it to business if you could? reporters who follow the romney campaign tried to get the candidate to answer that question today many, many times. >> thanks for your help this morning. >> would you eliminate fema if you were president? >> governor, what should fema's role be? governor, would you eliminate fema if you were president? >> thank you. >> governor, are you going to eliminate fema? >> governor romney -- >> governor romney, do you think it should be sent back to the states? >> why won't you answer any
questions about it? >> i don't know if it was 14, we actually counted up as you saw there it was 11 times. at least in that one instance that mr. romney was asked. here's another instance of it. how would getting rid of federal disaster response help this country in a situation like we're in right now? how seriously has mr. romney thought this through? did he mean that debate response? is that what we can expect from him as president? and can we expect an answer before we are expected to vote?
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the president canceled all campaign events today and tomorrow. his opponent, mitt romney, said he was canceling all campaign events. this one did stay on the schedule. romney/ryan victory rally. dayton, ohio, october 30th. this was the traveling press pass handed out for the romney event today. it was tweeted out by reporter ari shapiro. the event had previously been planned as a campaign rally. they kept it in the same place as the rally. they kept the event at the same time as the romney. mr. romney appeared with the same celebrity endorsers scheduled for rally and led with the vote for mitt romney biographical video that they play to start their campaign rallies. because they wanted credit for canceling their rallies out of sensitivity to the people suffering from this storm, they went ahead with this one mostly as planned but said they did not want it to be described as a rally. instead they wanted people to call it a storm relief event. they did ask people attending the rally to bring canned goods as storm relief, and mr. romney did a big ornate show of being seen to be handling canned goods which the campaign made a big show of saying would be donated
to the red cross so they got the photo op they wanted. as a presidential candidate mr. romney's photo op today also models for the nation what mr. romney believes to be the appropriate way to help if you're concerned about this giant disaster. and that's the problem, because however well mr. romney's piles of cans work for him as a photo op, that isn't actually what the red cross wants or needs people to do to actually help. look at the red cross website. question, i would like to donate clothes, cars or other items to charity. does the american red cross accept donated goods? answer, unfortunately due to constraints the red cross does not accept or solicit individual items, collected food, used items or clothes must be repackaged, transports which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel. financial contributions allow the red cross to purchase exactly what's needed for a disaster relief operation. people have an instinct to gather up blankets, canned goods that may be of direct help.
it's an understandable and laudable instinct. there's a direct need for a specific physical need to be donated in which case relief organizations ask for that thing. otherwise canned goods and other random supplies however well meaning give these organizations a whole new extra job they don't want to be doing, sorting through and storing random stuff they didn't ask for. it's a positive instinct that makes us want to give canned food and groceries and true those kinds of donations are generally not much of a help. one thing we need public leadership for is to bridge the gap between what feels good for us to do, what feels like helping and what actually does help. this is one of those things you need visible, competent, calm leadership for to say actually it's coming from the right place but what the red cross needs from you, from all of us is not canned goods, it's money. and here's why. this is not a hypothetical thing. this is one of the things you're supposed to do as a leader at a time ois